Used 1999 Saab 9-3 Consumer Reviews
I bought my 1999 Saab 9-3 in Sept 99 and have never regretted it. Sven the Saab has never left me high and dry (unless the fuel pump or battery died). Super comfy for all riders and far better MPG than listed on the sticker. Easily averaged over 30 mpg on the hwy.
Car requires capable mechanic - not most reliable on the road after 50K. Ignition cassette crapped out at 70K ($600 for T5), seals blew at 80K ($1800.00). I'm at 88K miles today. However, gobs of fun to drive (w/5 speed). I've installed many handling fixes (1999 base version I thought was poor) and it's great fun now. I recently drove 2007 BMW 328i wagon, 2010 MINI Clubman, 2010 Audi A3, 2010 Jetta Sportwagen, and 2011 VW GTI and decided to keep 'Helga'. None improved on the room, comfort or dramatically in handling to my old SAAB - so what if $2K yearly on repairs?; it's still cheaper than buying/leasing $25-$36K cars above. An enigmatic car, right for me.
Purchased new and drove it for 10 years and 187,000 miles. I expect it had another 100,000 miles in it. It ended service prematurely after it was rear ended. The vehicle did its job and all occupants walked away with no or very minor injuries. Thanks engineers and assemblers! I'll really miss this car. It did so many things well-a good blend of design, performance, build quality, economy and utility. And it was FUN to drive everyday. Others correctly point out proper routine maintenance is required. It's not necessarily expensive. Like all vehicles Saabs have quirks and some common part failures. To me they were either endearing or minor annoyances. I'm looking for another one.
I have the 4 door standard transmission version. It is a very powerful car for the price I paid and climate control works great. There are a few interior problems though. The pixels on the head unit have virtually faded away so you cant make out the time and radio stations. Not a big deal though. One other problem is that the driver side door lock made a terrible noise when it locks and sometimes wont even lock when it is cold out. The alarm system works great after learning first hand. Overall no major engine or other mechanical problems.
1st, let me say, Im a car guy tried and true. My first love is a z, but this Saab is a blast! I bought the car as a commuter, good gas mileage, convertible, had no idea I was getting a well refined sports machine. I see mixed reviews, and I think saabs get a bad rap from people who don't understand what they are buying. If you dont know how to take care of a turbo car, dont buy one. If you want to compromise on maintenance (or if the previous owner did), don't buy one. If you are not enthusiastic about cars in general, buy something else. This car is an enthusiast's car. It's a blast to drive, good gas mileage is a bonus. I'm am pleasantly surprised by the 28+mpg.